December 6, 2005

Howard Dean compares Iraq not just to Vietnam, but to Watergate.

Here. We've heard the stock comparison to Vietnam many times, of course, but why bring up Watergate -- except to let the world see that you're drooling over the idea of impeachment? Doesn't the chairman of Democratic National Committee have something better to do -- like inspire confidence that Democrats can be trusted with national security?

97 comments:

dick said...

I am afraid that there would almost have to be some sort of transplant before Howard Dean could inspire anyone to believe that he could be trusted with running the Defense Department. Shame really when you think of the past dems like Scoop Jackson, Sam Nunn, Zell Miller, and the current one of Joe Lieberman who really would be able to articulate a defense department policy that the dems have their current crop of leaders who haven't a clue.

Al Maviva said...

A more grievous error is his declaration that we've lost, Iraq is unwinnable, etc. Low intensity conflict is fought in the hearts and minds of people where the fighting occurs, and in the hearts and minds of the citizens of the assymetric "great power." An insurgency never ends, and is not end-able, until one side or the other gives up. Runaway Howard's declaration that we've lost and it's unwinnable is significant because as DNC chair, he "represents" the voice of roughly half the country. This kind of statement gets noticed by AQ and the Baathist scum and the criminals and plain old insurgents, and it encourages them to fight harder. War is a battle of the wills, and the material "teeth" of a nation can only be as strong as its will to win; and against an enemy that cannot win tactical engagements, the will to win is everything. Dean's statements will encourage the folks we're up against in Iraq to think "Hey, look, the Americans are beaten. Let's seize everything we can from them and kick them in the butt on the way out the door." The fact that he doesn't grasp this fundamental bit of political theory, voiced by every martial philosopher from Sun Tzu and Musashi through Clausewitz and Hart and Marshall, tells you everything that you need to know about Dean's fitness to lead the nation, or one of the nation's two major political parties. Unbelievable. Then again, from Runaway Howard, maybe nothing is beyond belief.

Mary said...

That's really all you've got to rely on for your Bush vote, though. He inspired your confidence more than Kerry or the Dems, and that was the most important issue to you at election time, right?

(Don't get me wrong: I've read comments where you threaten to censor people who misunderstand or disrespect you: 12/3 9:40am Alito oath post. I'm just trying to see where your analysis is coming from.)

Perhaps this is a reason that conservative bloggers -- more advocates than journalists often -- tend to downplay negative reports of success in Iraq, and still have a strange confidence that this administration is spending billions effectively.

If you can't win on the merits of Bush administration success, at least point out how horrible things would be with the Dems in power. (And I like the way you worked in drooling -- jism and assorted bodily fluids rock!)

ps. I think the Vietnam comparison is more applicable to the "what now" feeling going through society, then any true comparison of strategies or policies.

Thanks for hearing me out. Strange times this holiday season; you think a pre-emptive strike on Iran is possible?

Mary said...

Al: But isn't it also true in military analysis that when you've lost the will of the people to fight, then you're in for a rough battle?

Mary said...

Sorry for the follow up, but the next question to Al would have to be:

Have Howard Dean and the Dems become so influential that you think they are the cause of the loss of the will of the American people to support this fight?

Or could it be a distinct lack of confidence in this president and his Administration brought on independently of anything the minority party has said or done?

Red state/Blue state may win you an election or two by a close margin; it's not enough to win you the support of your people necessary to win a prolonged fight. But then I 'spose, you could always blame the liberal media and the Dems until people catch on to that.

Simon said...

I rather liked Governor Dean's record, but then he became candidate Dean. And for a while, that was okay; he was kind of shouty and anti-war, a hysterical liberal in training. But inevitably, and you can blame Joe Trippi for this as much as anyone, candidate Dean realized that the mob was cheering for his anti-war speeches, not his economic management, so he played to what worked, and drifted left. So I liked candidate Dean rather less than Governor Dean. And then he started running for Chair of the DNC, and he began to show disturbing potential to turn into a full-fledged hysterical liberal, which he in due course became. So now he's Chairman Dean, and really, he's a bit of a dick, and you can see that the more smart Democrats - Bayh, Herseth, Clinton - are positively embarrassed by him.

Paul said...

Mary: So you're saying inspiring confidence is a bad thing?
No preemptive strike, we should always allow our enemies to strike us first while we are singing Kumbaya.
The constant references to Vietnam and the dearth of reporting "good" works, efforts and the fact we are actually winning is often the reason for people to lose their will. It is possible to steer a people's will as is being done now; as it was done then, as it has always been.
And heaven of horrors, I'd like to see a return of The Draft too and a preemptive strike against N. Korea. No, Iran. No, Syria. No, Howard Dean's Headquarters, let's start with the most dangerous.

AJ Lynch said...

Mary:

You said "we have lost the will of the people" to fight and win. I am paraphrasing you and assume you are referring to recent poll results.

Unfortunately for you and the democratic leaders like Dr. Dean we don't run the country based on the latest poll...instead we have periodic elections. I understand you are probably gleeful when you read the poll results as you need to hold tight to any evidence that the voters were wrong in 2004.

Lastly, wait until the folks get wind of Senator Kerry's recent comments regarding the troops. I suspect even the the polls in Massachusetts will smack him around a whole lot.

Mary said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mary said...

Aj Lynch:
This is not really about Kerry or Dean anymore, though. They don't hold the power. The election is over. Your team won. You get to take the success, or the blame, for the choices you make.

I don't follow polls, just talk to people I eat with and see regularly. A united country with everyone pulling together -- I just don't see it right now.

Where is the leadership? Dean and Kerry and Kennedy are out. Who's up?

Mary said...

Paul: No. Inspiring confidence = good thing. Where has it been in this administration? Trust has been lost, and I don't see much effort to regain it. (Cheering happy doesn't count.)

If we're "winning" the fight against terrorism, show me don't tell me.

"It is possible to steer a people's will as is being done now; as it was done then, as it has always been." Well, is someone asleep at the wheel? The administration in power -- why aren't they steering us?

Cute Kumbaya reference. By assuming I'm a peacenik, you missed your chance to sell me on our country supporting another's pre-emptive strike on Iran.

Lose that Red State/Blue State mentality, and get to work steering. Honest appraisals from people in the know, not just political cronies. You have to re-earn trust and unite people to fight wars, not just win by a hair.

Maybe it's just a different mentality that hasn't yet been grasped by this administration and its supporters. I'm optimistic though.

Reese Urcher said...

Are we actually working from the assumption that we trust Republicans with national security? I don’t trust *any* politician with protecting my life. Living in DC and watching the color-coded threat levels fluctuate with the poll numbers made me realize they care more about their reelection bids than national security.

Does it make you feel safer when every 10 year old kid from Iowa has his backpack searched before entering the Natural History museum? Or that they installed metal detectors in touristy Smithsonian museums, but not the less-visited ones like modern art? I know I felt real safe flying out of National in March and reading all the signs in the security line that told me lighters would be banned from airplanes on April 14th. If lighters were such a threat to airplanes, why weren’t they banned immediately?

If you really care about national security issues you shouldn’t just assume that Republicans have it all under control. The 9/11 commission certainly doesn’t think they do.

XWL said...

I'm beginning to think a bunch of Republicans got together and pulled an elaborate 'reverse Moby' and skewed the post Katrina polls wildly against the President. (The Rasmussen Robo-polls never moved that far from where they've been since before the election)

The goal being to get the pretend moderates within the Democratic party to once again embrace their fringe.

Once the Democrats drop the moderate charade the majority of Americans (who are more moderate to conservative than they are moderate to liberal) will be so turned off by this group of crazed folks that the red states will get redder, the purple states will get redder, just as the blue states go from blue to shocking blue.

And patriotism still counts to a lot of people, the President is both a person, an office, and a symbol. The constant belittling of a president didn't do Conservatives much good when Pres. Clinton was the target and it has only harmed Liberals with Pres. Bush as boogeyman.

(you'd think they'd have learned their lesson with the constant derision of Pres. Reagan only to have him be viewed as one of the greatest Presidents of all time by many, many citizens)

Al Maviva said...

>>>Al: But isn't it also true in military analysis that when you've lost the will of the people to fight, then you're in for a rough battle?

Yes, it's true, but the relevant question on a day when John Kerry calls our troops terrorists isn't *whether* you've lost support, it's how or why. When the leadership holding the trust and confidence of one half of the country repeats unceasingly that it's a lost cause, the people who vote for them will tend to believe it. That's why they call people like Runaway Howard political "leaders." And if they scream and shout long enough, eventually even the supporters will become dispirited.

>>>>>Have Howard Dean and the Dems become so influential that you think they are the cause of the loss of the will of the American people to support this fight?


No, not the entire American people. Just 49% or so. And they will wear the rest of us out because frankly, we're tired of arguing with you tendentious people who would just as soon lose an important battle in a long war, if it meant you could score some points in the polls for a couple months.

>>>>Or could it be a distinct lack of confidence in this president and his Administration brought on independently of anything the minority party has said or done?

I like the "independently" qualification to your question - as if repeating "Bush Lied People Died" and "no blood for oil" and "Bush is a miserable failure" for three years as a party mantra happened in a complete and utter vaccuum, and had no effect on the world. Might as well conclude that the Johnstown flood occurred solely and "independently" because a dam failed, and the nature of water and hydrodynamics had nothing to do with it.

>>>Red state/Blue state may win you an election or two by a close margin; it's not enough to win you the support of your people necessary to win a prolonged fight. But then I 'spose, you could always blame the liberal media and the Dems until people catch on to that.

The morale of the people is something largely propped up or driven down by leadership actions. Bush is to some extent responsible - but to discount the constant harping from the left, and the MSM's utter inability to report anything other than bad news is irrelevant, shows an amazing blindness to context that is stunning. You know how Bush's speech at Annapolis was reported? No, of course not, because you didn't see any mention of it, save for a CNN shot of sleeping midshipmen parked in the auditorium an hour before the speech; or in a NY Times article talking about how the "cadets" received the speech - a fundamental error comparable to comparable to discussing how the Pope governs the Baptist Church. Come on Mary, they can't even tell Cadets from Middies. You want me to say their war reporting is accurate, especially when I have friends (including people I served with) over their right now telling me the MSM is lying to me? I was born at night, but not last night.

Besides, this third argument is utterly inconsistent with your first two. Your first two arguments are that it's wrong to blame the Dems for undercutting the war effort, because the Dems just don't matter. This argument is that it's not a red or blue thing, because public opinion is move-able.

Paul said...

Mary:
Inspiring confidence = good thing. Where has it been in this administration?

We are winning. The proof is everywhere, you refuse to admit you were wrong and see it and our liberal media refuses to tell it and our educators refuse to teach it.
We are trying to show you we're winning; the soldiers involved are trying to show you. You just refuse to see.
My Kumbaya reference is in effect challenging you to explain how the American people should be protected? You are a critic, fine. Do you have a plan, a general idea? I'm not asking for specifics. What is it?
I would much rather be steered by my ideas, and those of my neighbors than a government, thank you. My press should give me information, without agenda toward promoting one political party over another and let me decide and people should not use falsehoods to overthrow an election they did not like.

Bruce Hayden said...

Maybe the money quote is "He said the Democrat proposal is not a 'withdrawal,' but rather a 'strategic redeployment' of U.S. forces."

But his point that we should "Bring the 80,000 National Guard and Reserve troops home immediately." would reduce the troop strength in Iraq by over half and sounds like cutting and running to me.

I think the Watergate point was gratuitous. That was the high point of many Democrats' political experience, and they no doubt want to repeat it. Unfortunately for them, the Iraqi WMD intel mistakes are not going to end up with the impeachment of President Bush.

Rather, if they concentrate too hard on it, the country is going to be reminded that the real failure was with our intelligence gathering apparatae, and, most notably, the CIA, which had been hobbled by the last two Democratic administrations, esp. as to its covert (i.e. actual spy) operations.

Besides, there is the politics involved. Nixon faced a Democratic Congress. Clinton faced a Republican one. Bush faces one controlled by his own party, which is not about to give the Democrats this satisfaction, short of really heinous High Crimes, etc.

Henry said...

That's really all you've got to rely on for your Bush vote, though. He inspired your confidence more than Kerry or the Dems, and that was the most important issue to you at election time, right?

Mary, that's right. It was a Hobson's choice between a second-rate something (Bush's investment in staying the course) and a grudging, hysterical nothing. What Dean gives us now is an elaboration on the policy of nothing.

I wish to God we had Franklin Roosevelt as president instead of Bush. And I wish to God that the opposition party had run someone of the caliber of Wendell Wilkie.

But they didn't. They didn't run Joe Lieberman. They ran an empty suit instead and gave the party to a clown.

Mark said...

"No, not the entire American people. Just 49% or so. And they will wear the rest of us out because frankly, we're tired of arguing with you tendentious people who would just as soon lose an important battle in a long war, if it meant you could score some points in the polls for a couple months."

Again, this is exactly the sort of unfair accusation that some Republicans level against Democrats. We can equally say that you would just as soon put our country at risk by engaging in a stupid foolhardy and arrogant foreign policy if it meant increase in your ratings. Hint: Timing of the run-up to the Iraq war closely coincided with the midterm elections.

"We are winning. The proof is everywhere, you refuse to admit you were wrong and see it and our liberal media refuses to tell it and our educators refuse to teach it."

Do you get your news from Fox? it's you who is stubbornly refusing to accept that the guerilla war in Iraq cannot be won in any meaningful sense; what's going on is we are training a Shiite army who as soon as we leave will engage in civil war with Sunnis. There's ZERO evidence of "winning". Citing elections doesn't cut it, unless you count as winning helping to form a totalitarian radical Shiite state like Iran.

"Rather, if they concentrate too hard on it, the country is going to be reminded that the real failure was with our intelligence gathering apparatae, and, most notably, the CIA, which had been hobbled by the last two Democratic administrations, esp. as to its covert (i.e. actual spy) operations. "

Yes, when in trouble blame everyone else, especially Democratic administration. It used to be that buck stopped with the President, but wait, it was a Democratic president.

And as far as media not reporting success stories from Iraq; there's a kernel of truth to it. Of course, bombings and kidnappings are more newsworthy. But the main reason why good news are not reported is lack of good news. Be sure, if there were good news, Fox and talk show radio and vast conservative media empire would be all over it.

AJ Lynch said...

Mary:

You said"This is not really about Kerry or Dean anymore, though. They don't hold the power. The election is over. Your team won. You get to take the success, or the blame, for the choices you make."

I don't expect credit or blame- I just want America, our country, to do great things and that includes winning in Iraq. Can you say the same?

The Florida Masochist said...

NY Times columnist Frank Rich did a similiar link in his July 10th column. I blogged on it here.

http://thefloridamasochist.blogspot.com/2005/12/are-howard-dean-and-frank-rich-same.html

The former Vermont Governor says the silliest things. I wouldn't pay much attention to him. Except for hardcore democrats, I don't think anyone finds him credible.


Bill

Mark said...

"I like the "independently" qualification to your question - as if repeating "Bush Lied People Died" and "no blood for oil" and "Bush is a miserable failure" for three years as a party mantra happened in a complete and utter vaccuum, and had no effect on the world. Might as well conclude that the Johnstown flood occurred solely and "independently" because a dam failed, and the nature of water and hydrodynamics had nothing to do with it."

Funny, but the place where I've heard the phrase "Bush lied people died" most often is Fox news. It's largely a strawman; most Democrats shied away from accusing the President of lying. And as I said before, it's almost inconceivable how anyone but most partisan Republicans can deny that he deliberately misled Americans.
If only we had a Democratic congress; not for impeachment but for subpoena power, to call the officials to the real hearings and have them explained how we are where we are and who played what role. Republican congress will never investigate Republican president. Of course, it equally applies to Democrats.

Mark said...

"I don't expect credit or blame- I just want America, our country, to do great things and that includes winning in Iraq. Can you say the same?"

Of course I can. I just realize that winning in Iraq is a completely meaningless phrase, unless it's defined what winning means. And if winning is defined as anything more than declaring vicory and leaving within a reasonable timeframe, I realize that winning is unachievable.

XWL said...

OK, upon reflection, Chairman Dean's historical analogy deserves another.

Had he been in charge at Bastogne when with the Germans demanding unconditional surrender, I doubt his reply would have been, Nuts!.

(Though, Nuts, can be applied to Chairman Dean in another context quite readily)

Mark said...

Comparing the war in Iraq with WWII is the same as comparing apples with buildings. I.e., nothing in common.

Mark said...

Since Dick mentioned Sam Nunn (a former Democratic Senator from Georgia), here's what he said about Iraq war in 1994:

Q: I’d just like to follow up that question. Do you think the Iraq war made us less or more safe in terms of the danger of terrorism and terrorists obtaining weapons of mass destruction, and so on?

SENATOR NUNN: Well, we had a terrorist problem before Iraq, and we’ve got, if anything, a more serious problem now. I think history’s going to have to judge whether Iraq makes the world safer or makes it more dangerous.

In the short term, I think it makes it more dangerous. In the long term, it depends on what happens in Iraq. If we can get the UN in there, if we can get NATO in there, if we can get other nations in there, if we can get our friends in the Arab world to have a Muslim presence on the ground there, with both civil reconstruction and security, and if Iraq begins to make progress five, ten years from now, you may look back and say the world in the long run is safer. In the short run, I don’t think there’s any question it’s more dangerous.


What all you Bush apologetics can't understand is that he made America fundamentally less safe and weaker, and future Presidents will have to deal with it.

Mark said...

I'm sorry, it should have been 2004, not 1994, in my last post, of course :)

Sloanasaurus said...

Mark said "...There's ZERO evidence of "winning". Citing elections doesn't cut it, unless you count as winning helping to form a totalitarian radical Shiite state like Iran....."

This assumption about Iraq becoming the next Iran is common for critics.

I will concede that the the Iraq policy was mostly a failure if a totalitarian shia Iranian type regime emerges in Iraq. However, if a totalitarian Shia state does not emerge in Iraq within the next few years, will you concede that you were wrong.....

Who wants to wager.....

Joe Baby said...

Is Dean being tactical? Or undisciplined? Has he simply gone round the bend?

"[I]dea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is just plain wrong."

Why do some politicians write the TV commercials for their opponents?

Sloanasaurus said...

"....Comparing the war in Iraq with WWII is the same as comparing apples with buildings. I.e., nothing in common...."

There are plenty of worthwhile historical comparisons of similarities and contrasts between Iraq and World War II. To ignore them is folly.

What then would you compare to the Iraq war.

Mark said...

Sloanasaurus:
Would you please name some similarities between the Iraq war and the WWII? Except for the fact that both Saddam and Hitler were very bad guys, I don't see any similarities.
Of course, much more apt comparisons, in my view, are 1) Soviet war in Afghanistan (1979-1989), and 2) American war in Vietnam. The Afghanistan war is even more comparable than Vietnam: the USSr tried to build a secular friendly state in Afghanistan for 10 years; there were constant reports of "winning"; defeating a few mujaheddins was always so close; there were elections; there was a friendly government controlling most of Afghan cities; and there was a population which hated Soviets and wanted them to leave. Finally, Gorbachev withdrew in 1989, leaving a friendly gov-t in place. We all know what happened as a result: the gov-t fell within 2 years, a civil war ensued, and finally Taliban came to power.

Mark said...

In fact, there are so many similarities between the USSR's foreign policy in 1970s and 1980s and the American foreign policy under Bush. Both superpowers were/are seeking to impose their view of how things should work on other countries. The fact is neither socialism nor democracy can be imposed by force from abroad. The USSR learned it the hard way; it appears that the USA did not learn any lessons.
A country should "grow" to be ready for democracy, especially in the Middle East. When you try to impose it from abroad, you get a huge popular resentment and as a result, the most extreme elements come to power. There's a saying in Russia, which is roughly translated as: a road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Mary said...

"...Bush is to some extent responsible..."

I'm going be optimistic, and take this as "we're making progress here."

OK folks, off on a business trip. Thanks for making a chilly morning a little warmer, and have a good day. (No lie; I really mean that. God bless us everyone, everywhere... how does Kumbaya start again?)

F15C said...

Regarding Deans prounouncement about Iraq, would that a high level Al Qaeda member would publicly state that he believes his troops can't win the war -- it would raise the morale of *our* troops tremendously.

But say what you will about them, even the leaders of Al Qaeda know better and would not stoop that low...

tcd said...

mary,
No one is conceding anything here. I think Al Maviva meant that the Bush administration did not respond to Democrat lies about the war fast enough. But nice try though. By the way, you are a peacenik; the "peace at all cost" type too.

Sloanasaurus said...

Mark, I agree with you that most of the comparisons with WWII and Iraq are moral. However, World War II is similar in scope and scale to the war that we would have had to fight 15 years from now, but for our invasion of Iraq.

Iraq is only similar to Vietnam in the reaction to it by the press and leftists back home. Otherwise there is no comparison.

Afghanistan is a bad comparison to Iraq because, again, that was another superpower proxy war.

It is true that America is hoping to spread American ideology to Iraq, that being democracy, freedom, and individual liberty. These are values that were not the purpose of the Soviets in Afghanistan, nor was this necessarily the goal of the U.S. in Vietnam or Korea. In Vietnam and Korea, we only wanted to stop the soviets and were willing to support "friendly dictators." This is the realist view of foreign policy.

Bush does not hold this "realist" view...(which is the view of Brent Scocroft, a common GWB critic). Bush now argues that democracy and freedom are the only way to limit the proliferation of Nuclear weapons. We can no longer just rely on a friendly dictator for our defense. In that sense he has combined the wilsonian view of spreading freedom with a self defense argument. This freedom /defense combination is essence of the Bush Doctrine. This doctrine underpins the entire Iraq policy.

You can agree with it or not. However, it is the best idea I have heard to date about dealing with the future proliferation of WMD.

Sloanasaurus said...

"....The fact is neither socialism nor democracy can be imposed by force from abroad...."

Except that we imposed democracy on Germany and Japan. Oh and that I would like to har of a historical examplwe where democracy did not arise because of the assistance of a foreign power....

Regarding Socialism.... Socialism is ALWAYS imposed on the people, either from abroad or by a minority at home.

F15C said...

Mark wrote: "A country should "grow" to be ready for democracy, especially in the Middle East."

That sounds all warm and fuzzy and all, but given that the totalitarian regimes predominant in the middle east tend to want to remain in power, and given that the predominant religion provides a very powerful set of tools to maintain the status quo, and given that most of what people living under these regimes learn about the world is directly controlled by their government to benefit that government, just *how* do you propose they "grow" out of such a situation?

Iraq is a perfect example. Do you seriously contend that the people of Iraq - who are *clearly* demonstrating that they want - and will support by voting in large numbers - a democratic form of government, would have "grown" out of Saddam's ruthless and brutal control by now?

Your platitude is simple and laughable.

F15C said...

sloanasaurus, you stated heart of the matter extremely well without resorting to political platitudes or partisan talking points. I've rarely heard it stated more succinctly. Good job.

Jacques Cuze said...

We've heard the stock comparison to Vietnam many times...

Shorter Ann, "LA LA LA LA LA I AM NOT LISTENING TO YOU LA LA LA LA LA"

Palladian said...

You contribute a lot to these discussions, Quxxo! Maybe next you'll paste some quotes from some people!

It's the classic sophomore fallacy: mistaking sarcasm and irony for intelligent commentary.

As for the Watergate thing, can you imagine the administration actually thinking it would be valuable to break into the DNC offices in this day and age? It's laughable. If you stole the current DNC playbook, you'd discover that it was a notebook with a bunch of bumper stickers pasted on the pages and some daisies doodled on the cover.

Henry said...

Palladian -- That is funny.

Mark said...

Sloanasaurus,

You raise some valid points but what you're missing is that in cases of Germany and Japan, it took the WWII and many years of committment by the US to impose democracy. I said before that if the US really wants to commit to democratic Iraq, it needs many more troops and committment to this country for many many years. This is clearly not the case.

Democracies which raised without military interventions from abroad: Eastern Europe and Russia. I also believe that China will become a democracy one day, and even Iran. Ironically, the US war in Iraq strengthened the hand of mullahs in Iran and prolonged the day when they'll be swept away from the power. They skillfully exploited US presence in the neighboring Iraq to incite domestic nationalism and anti-Americanism.
With regard to Socialism, what you said is arguable too. In many cases, peoples mistakenly choose socialism. There's no way Reds would have won the Civil War in Russia in 1920s if the majority of the population did not support Socialism. It's another thing that in reality, Socialism usually turns into a dictatorship or authoritarian regime. But often times, people genuinely support it, even if they are ultimately mistaken.


"Iraq is a perfect example. Do you seriously contend that the people of Iraq - who are *clearly* demonstrating that they want - and will support by voting in large numbers - a democratic form of government, would have "grown" out of Saddam's ruthless and brutal control by now?"

It sounds fuzzy and noble and good to impose democracy, but we see the result in Iraq. In Algiers, they had free democratic elections in 1992, only to have islamic radicals won the majority of the seats. SUbsequently, the vote was annulled and military dictatorship seized power. What we'll have in Iraq is a) Shia majority in the parliament; b) close alignment of radical shiites with Iran; c) Shiites wanting autonomy to control oil in the south of Iraq; d) growing resentment of Sunnis;
e) civil war.

It's very hard to experiment with imposition of democracy from abroad, especially in the middle east, especially in largely artificial states as Iraq. My prediction is it will not work; your intentions are good but your view of the world is too idealistic.

Yes, people would have overthrown Saddam eventually. It's perfectly legitimate and indeed needed to support opposition to dictators; but to unilaterally attack a country under false pretenses and then claim that even if our main stated reason for getting in Iraq was false, we'll still stay and build democracy is foolish. The USA does not have a committment or will or money to stay in Iraq for 20-30 years and spend trillions of dollars on nation-building there. And it probably would not work even under those conditions; the Americans are too hated there. 80% of Iraqis want us to leave.

A Christian Prophet said...

Please everyone pray for Howard Dean and his allies. Their hatred has blinded them so. According to the Holy Spirit's message on The Christian Prophet blog, the U.S. has already achieved great spiritual victories in Iraq. We need a strong and spiritually tuned-in Democratic Party. Please pray for clear seeing.

Mark said...

And I just have to mention about the regret/observation that Democrats should demonstrate that they can be trusted with national security. I don't mean to re-fight 2004 elections, but I think anyone who voted for Bush in 2004 forfeited any right to complain about the state of national security. It sounds harsh, but if one voted for Bush given what he/she knew then about the effect of his policies on national security, I am sorry, you have no credibility to complain about Democrats. Even in 2004, it was apparent that there is noone who did more damage to US national security than Bush. It will take years to repair the damage he caused to the United States.

Mark said...

Christian Prophet:
yep, already praying. I am glad that the Holy Spirit knows how to post messages on the Christian Prophet Blog. We are safe now.

Sloanasaurus said...

Mark, you have sour view on our chances of success in Iraq.

Yes, we stayed in germany and Japan for many years, but those socities were also more or less completely destroyed, and the cold war was beginning.

The elections in Iraq are more unique than other experiences.
they have already had two elections and people are taking the results seriously. It is very possible that we found a formula that worked in Iraq.

You argue that once we leave, the people will vote in dictatorship. You premise that with the following:
"...
a) Shia majority in the parliament; b) close alignment of radical shiites with Iran; c) Shiites wanting autonomy to control oil in the south of Iraq; d) growing resentment of Sunnis;..."

There are just as many arguments the other way, For example, there may be a shia majority in parliament, but they may not all agree (you already have parties and coalitions). You assume sia will join with Iran, yet Iraqis are arab not persian. You say Shia want autonomous control of oil in the south. What if the shia who live in baghdad and northern Iraq also want some of that oil. they can join with sunnis and Kurds to spoil the southern shia. You argue growing resentment of sunnis... what if it is the other way, what if sunnis have already reached their maximum resentment and are fallign abck in line (particpating in elections).

Maybe it is all a dream. But, it was dreamers who founded this country, not realists... the realists were with the Torys.

Even if it all fails, we still suceeded in getting rid of Saddam who was arguably the worlds most dangerous individual because of his unique concentration of power, wealth, and personal insanity.

Your comments about democracy are wrong. Some countries in Eastern Europe are democratic because of the support by the United States Military in defeating the USSR. Ask anyone in Eastern Europe and they will tell you this is so.

Russia may be a unique example... yet the jury is out on the future of that democracy.

The false pretenses argument is tiring, because it's a false argument. To think that 75 senators were duped by George W. Bush is outrageous and a view with eyes shut.

Joe Baby said...

Sez Mark:

anyone who voted for Bush in 2004 forfeited any right to complain about the state of national security.

Sorry, but it has been possible to dislike the entirety of Bush-policy but see little more than a null set when looking to Democrats for other ideas.

Indeed, the predilection toward the angry, tomato-throwing reply to Bush foreign policy has done the country a disservice. A mature, coherent opposition is vital, and I await it with much anticipation.

Mark said...

Sloanasaurus:

Well, let's just agree to disagree. I think a healthy dose of idealism is good, but not to the extent when it blinds people from the reality. About your comment of Iraqis being Arabs; it's true but still I think that the allegiances of most Iraqi shiites are much closer to Iranian shiites than to Sunnis. Many of the leading Shiite imams are former Iranians.

And there are few Shiites living in the Sunni provinces of Iraq and according to news reports, there is a soft ethnic cleansing going on, where Sunnis are moving to Sunni-dominated areas and Shiites are moving to Shiite-dominated areas. Maybe I am sour, but I predict that in few years, there will be very few if any mixed populations in Iraq; it will be very compartmentalized.

About the Eastern Europe, it's a mistake to think that the US military buildup led to Communism's demise. I am sorry, but Communism empire collapsed because of economic reasons and because of Gorbachev. Reagan or not, the Soviet Union and its satellites would have collapsed anyway. Maybe the US military buildup fastened the pace of the collapse, but it was inevitable anyway. People in the Eastern Europe hated Russians and wanted freedom. However, if the US would have attempted to invade, say, Poland (forget for a minute about implausibility, nuclear retaliation, etc), I guarantee you that most Poles would have opposed the US. Same in Russia, most Russians liked the USA during the Soviet Union time despite all the propaganda. But if it invaded or attacked, naturally they would resist. Same would have been in the USA. Imagine if France comes here and attempts to install free health care for everyone by force. Don't you think all Americans would be very opposed to this?
The point is democracy should be supported: by supporting opposition, free press, broadcasting, etc. But not by invading a country.

Yes, you're right that it's good that Saddam is gone. But what did we trade a secular dictator for? If it's chaos followed by a militant Islamic regime, I say it wasn't worth it.

In any case, of course I hope that Iraq becomes a thriving democracy and my view proves too pessimistic. But perhaps I am too much of a realist to believe it.

F15C said...

Mark: "It sounds fuzzy and noble and good to impose democracy, but we see the result in Iraq. In Algiers, they had free democratic elections in 1992, only to have islamic radicals won the majority of the seats. SUbsequently, the vote was annulled and military dictatorship seized power. What we'll have in Iraq is a) Shia majority in the parliament; b) close alignment of radical shiites with Iran; c) Shiites wanting autonomy to control oil in the south of Iraq; d) growing resentment of Sunnis;
e) civil war."

Mark, you are an intelligent person. But you are writing broad aphoristic statements to support your world-view that amount to no more than well written conjecture. Your comparison to Algiers is spurious at best. You can't just compare one very complex and nuanced situation with another of equal or greater complexity and completely different contexts and use that to project a "result" with any semblance of accuracy or veracity. The dynamics in Iraq are not the same as in Algiers. Alleging such to draw conclusions is a very weak form of resorting to authority to buttress your argument and it does not hold water. Further, your abc's do not give any credit to the Iraqi people that they just might find ways to resolve their differences and live together in some relative harmony. I'm not saying they will, I'm saying they might, but you are saying they won't. Contrary to what you might think, these are intelligent people who want to just live their lives and be free to enjoy their families, friends, and work. Freedom can change how people deal with each other - I'd suggest you give the Iraqi people - and freedom - a chance to work.

"... but we see the result in Iraq."

Well what is that result? You go down the list of accomplishments discount seemingly every achievement by our troops and their leadership, and the Iraqis themselves, while conjecturing that what exists today is the ultimate result of the war in Iraq and that it can only get worse. Well you and your ilk were saying that same thing before the first election and things have not gotten worse. Mark: There is a war going on in Iraq. There are some very, very bad people trying their best to undo the effects of the elections, usurp the democratically elected government and establish a Taliban like dictatorship there. These bad people are very smart, very dedicated, and very, very evil. They do not give up as easily as Howard Dean - by a long shot, so they are not easily defeated. But that does not mean that they can't and won't be defeated - they will if we continue to prosecute the war against them in a relentless, dedicated, and unyielding manner.

"It's very hard to experiment with imposition of democracy from abroad, especially in the middle east, especially in largely artificial states as Iraq."

You know all this how? You are just making this up to support your claims - such a contrived sentence substantiates nothing. It is no more accurate (and probably less so) that me saying, "It's very hard to experiment with going to the moon, especially from Cape Kennedy, especially in a state like Florida." The statement is made to support my opinion but proves or disproves nothing - beyond proving the silly lengths I will go to in a grasping attempt to be right.

"but to unilaterally attack a country under false pretenses and then claim that even if our main stated reason for getting in Iraq was false,"

For in billionth time, we did not "unilaterally" go into Iraq. Coalition Mark, coalition... As to false pretenses, Saddam violated many, many UN resolutions and the intelligence consensus at the time was that he was pursuing WMD. None of that was, or is, false. Mark, "intelligence" is not, repeat not, the same as judicial proof. Never has been and never will be by its very nature. Mark believe or not, our leaders have to make decisions based on intelligence that is less than perfect and does not meet the rigor of judicial proof. But those decisions must be executed. There are always going to be more than one perspective present in intelligence reports, that does not mean that the one you like is good, and the others bad.

"Yes, people would have overthrown Saddam eventually."

Had the Coalition leaders not chosen to go to war against him, Saddam Hussein would have accomplished something that no other leader in the ME could: He would have succeeded in backing down the US and the UN (admittedly no significant accomplishment in backing down the UN, a stuffed bunny could do it) on what is inarguably the most important matter in the world today - WMD. He was within months of having sanctions lifted via his manipulation of votes on the UNSC. Had those events occurred, his perception as the most powerful man in the middle east would be solidifed and embellished. And that is exactly what his gambit was all about: Power. His stranglehold on the people of Iraq would have tightened by an order of magnitude rendering your statement above pitifully moot.

Sloanasaurus said...

"...About your comment of Iraqis being Arabs; it's true but still I think that the allegiances of most Iraqi shiites are much closer to Iranian shiites than to Sunnis. Many of the leading Shiite imams are former Iranians...."

Or in otherwords, you are really only speculating. To speculate, howeve,r you have to ignore that Iraqi shia have been arabs with their sunni arab brothers for thousands of years.... but, they have been shia only since the 19th century.

You ARE too much of a realist.

Realists are relativists in sheeps clothing. They are responsible for maintaining the most abhorrent institutions in the world such as Communism and Slavery.

Neither Lincoln, JP II, or Reagan were "realists."

JBlog said...

So...the Democrats take the guy THEY decided was too crazy to be president, and instead they make him the head of their party...

Yessiree, THAT certainly sounds like a recipe for success.

The question isn't why Dean makes such preposterous statements -- it's why anyone is surprised.

Coco said...

"But you are writing broad aphoristic statements to support your world-view that amount to no more than well written conjecture. You can't just compare one very complex and nuanced situation with another of equal or greater complexity and completely different contexts and use that to project a "result" with any semblance of accuracy or veracity. "

AGreed - Of course this applies equally, (probably more) to Sloanasaurus' comments as mauch as Mark's - especially this one that you complimented him on:

"However, World War II is similar in scope and scale to the war that we would have had to fight 15 years from now, but for our invasion of Iraq."

FYI F15c - I'm not picking a fight here -I generally agree with your point - regardless of the "world-view."

Joe Baby said...

I am sorry, but Communism empire collapsed because of economic reasons and because of Gorbachev. Reagan or not, the Soviet Union and its satellites would have collapsed anyway.

Wow, this seems like a really limited view of the events of the 1980's. Even assuming it's true, the list of American influence is too long to simply haze over. Pershing missiles. Missile defense. Radio Free Europe. CIA + Solidarity. Reagan's language.

Would they have fallen eventually? Yeah.
For purely economic reasons? Debatable.
Would they still have collapsed by '89? Debatable.

As for whether Poland would have resisted an invasion, I would argue they would not have after '80 or '81. Solidarity makes the cover of Time in '80 and is banned in '81. Regardless, even with CIA assistance, a righteous cause, an active Pope and a corrupt system, it took an additional 8 years of living under tyranny. Sorry, but systems that strong don't just blow away. They need a good shove.

Here lies the real opportunity for Democrats -- that is, to advocate an all-inclusive opposition to Islamic Looneyism, a la our approach to Communism. Militarily. Culturally. Economically. I hear Bush constantly speaking of (exporting) democratic values, but Dems have forgotten these words. The general Democratic theme is that we are/Bush is making more terrorists.

Democrats have seized upon the wrong opponent. I think Dems would be back in power rapidly if they chose FDR as their role model rather than JEC (James Earl Carter).

AJ Lynch said...

Joe Baby:

I disagree...it fell due to the combined efforts of Reagan, The USA, The Pope and heroes like Lech Walesa.

Pastor_Jeff said...

While interesting, discussions about whether Iraq is like Afghanistan, Vietnam or Poland have gotten a bit off-topic (he said, as one who derails more than Amtrak). Can Democrats be trusted with national security?

Well, it's hard to see how if the heart of the message is doom, despair and defeat. "Our army is broken. Our soldiers are terrorists. And Iraq is an unwinnable quagmire." How do you think this plays to the military ("Whom we support totally, of course! Even though they're incompetent, terrorist killbots"). I just posted on this this morning.

Mark said...

Sloanasaurus:

Of course, we are speculating what will happen in Iraq; nobody knows for sure. I base my view, however, on more or less objective reports from Iraq, which demonstrate that while some progress has been made, the situation on the whole is not changing for the better as the country grows more and more compartmentalized, Sunnis discontent grows (especially after adopting the Constitution most of them opposed), womens rights in worse shape than during under Saddam's rule; Iraqi army being a bunch of local militias, etc. Yes, none of us knows the reality on the ground with any certainty. In your opinion, I am too much of a pessimist/realist who doesn't believe in the power of freedom and in the success of US mission in Iraq. In my opinion, I am being realistic that you cannot artificially impose democracy in Iraq given the US committment and attitudes of ordinary Iraqis toward Americans. I am afraid that the real winner of this war in Iraq will turn out to be Iran.
I really hope I am wrong, because if I'm right, the current situation will seem as a picnic (just imagine radicals in Iran with a nuclear bomb and a sympathetic Shiite gov-t in Iraq). There'll be VERY few options for the US at that point.

Reagan, despite what you say, was a realist. After the bombings in Lebanon, he withdrew the US contingent from that country instead of getting the US entangled in the ME conflicts. I don't like a lot of Reagan's foreign policy, but he never did anything as unwise as invasion in Iraq. Sure, he invaded Grenada, gave help to contras in Nicaragua, and put Pershing missiles in the Western Europe. But all of these acts are not comparable to a long-term military mission in a ME country, especially when the US acted almost unilaterally (the coalition was a joke, with exception of UK. Micronesia's and Polish troops never played a big role).
Bush's foreign policy is best explained by his messianic view of himself as God's chosen leader to promote liberty and good in the world. He sees everything in black and white; and it's not helpful in foreign policy. Sure, there's good and there's evil, but there are also many many many shades of gray, nuances, which Bush is uncapable of understanding. His philosophy can be summed up in his own words: you're with us or against us. Just think how foolish this comment is. This is exactly Bolshevik philosophy; it allows no room for disagreement, no room for compromise.
As far as Communism and slavery's being realists' fault, please! What would you have suggested the USA done during the Cold War? Bomb the USSR? Reagan did take a strong stand on the Soviet Union, but when you compare it to Iraq, the USA already took a strong stand on Iraq since 1991. It would have paid off, eventually.
The choice between going to war in Iraq and doing nothing was a false one. There aren't just 2 choices for any given situation. For example, a smarter (in my view) choice would have been to force Saddam to allow free and unhindered inspections (as he was forced to do anyway); reach a sensible agreement with the UN's Security Council members (France, Russia, China); and then present Saddam with a united international community. If the inspections were allowed to continue, they would have demonstrated lack of WMD in Iraq, and then we could have had an honest debate about what to do next; whether we go and change the regime in Iraq anyway or whether we are satisfied that Iraq is tamed and crippled and wait until the people of Iraq overthrow the tyran. Instead, Bush did everything wrong: alienated allies, displayed arrogance, said tons of misleading information about WMD, conflated 9/11 and Al Qaeda with Iraq, etc. I mean, if one really wanted to do everything in the worst possible way, Bush succeeded in that. I could bet you a million bucks (if I had one) that none of America's past leaders would have conducted the foreign policy so unprofessionally and so crudely as Bush. Reagan would have been far more nuanced; just look at his diplomacy with Gorbachev. Yes, it's speculation who would have done what, but honestly, an amateur would have done a better job than Bush.

What the US should have done first, is to finish what it started in Afghanistan. It completely went off radars given Iraq, but if the USA doesn't really follow through with assisting fledgling democracy in Afghanistan, it'll turn into a failed state again and Al Qaeda will operate there with impunity. So, instead of diverting resources to fight a very bad secular dictator with no idea what to do after he's overturned, the USA should have fought Islamic radicals where they were: Afghanistan.

Just some of my thoughts...

Henry said...

Mark, you write something I agree with: If it's chaos followed by a militant Islamic regime, I say it wasn't worth it.

But then you advocate a course of action (withdrawal) that will create the very situation that you say makes our mission in Iraq not "worth it."

I don't know if anyone can prove if events on the ground are getting better or worse, but consider even these contrasting pessimistic scenarios: We stay in Iraq for 20 more years at the current rate of casualties. Or, we give ourselves a domestically-useful timetable for getting out and allow the region to degenerate into a civil war followed by a militant Islamic regime. In my mind the right thing to do is the former, bloody as it is.

In terms of analogies, I think lessons can be learned from other wars, but to analogize another Vietname or Russia in Afghanistan looks like psychological projection more than analysis.

Why not consider the Korean war? That was a violent little war that dwindled into an ugly draw, yet as a result, millions of people in the U.S. occupied territory now live in a prosperous society under a stable government.

The U.S. goal to bring democracy to Iraq may not succeed. Yet, if we remain committed to the effort, the result will still be far far better than the alternative.

Mark said...

"Well, it's hard to see how if the heart of the message is doom, despair and defeat. "Our army is broken. Our soldiers are terrorists. And Iraq is an unwinnable quagmire." How do you think this plays to the military ("Whom we support totally, of course! Even though they're incompetent, terrorist killbots"). I just posted on this this morning."

Very unfair and misleading comment. Democrats never said that military are "terrorists", "incompetent, terroris killbots" or any of the other stuff that you accused them of saying. The problem is not our military who are doing the best job they can; the problem is the Commander-in-Chief. That's who the real culprit is.

Sloanasaurus said...

When Reagan called the Soviet Union the "Evil empire" all the realists fell out of their chairs.

Of course I agree with you to some extent. Being a visionary doesn't mean ignoring realities, and visionaries can often hippocritical. However, visionaries are the ones that move us in the end.

The Stuff about Bush believing he is God's chosen one is High School. Bush is no more religious than FDR, Truman, or any other President who read the bible.

Mark said...

Henry,

Honestly, I am still not sure what the best course of action is to prevent Iraq from degenerating into the chaotic state or from becoming a theocracy.

However, you have to concede that the USA won't be there for 20 years; whether we want it or not, US public simply won't accept our staying there for that long. The public is not willing to be there to try and prevent Islamists from coming to power. I think a powerful argument can be made that our presence is flaming a lot of insurgency. Not the Al Qaeda, of course, but a lot of nationalist Iraqis simply don't want to see US troops on their soil. If the troops are withdrawn, it's reasonable to expect that a lot of insurgents (not all, but a substantial number) will return to peaceful life. Nobidy really likes wars except for professional terrorists.

It's far from clear that Al Qaeda will be able to win in Iraq anyway. Most Shiites will never support this predominantly Sunni group. The worst that will happen is the civil war with terrorists controlling some parts of sunni Iraq. But in that case, we can still fight them there, by airstrikes for example, specific missions, etc. And I think most Sunni Iraqis will not want Al qaeda operating on their territory anyway. Now they are all fighting US troops and collaborators (as they see them) together, but once the US leaves, it will remove a lot of what unites terrorists and other insurgents.

So, it's highly debatable what will happen when US withdraws. There's no doubt that it will withdraw, sooner rather than later (2-3 years max). Even Murtha doesn't want an immediate withdrawal; his main point was to start real debate about where we are and what to do next.

Mark said...

Sloanasaurus:

Even you have to concede that calling the USSR an evil empire (BTW, Reagan took it back during his visit to Moscow in 1987) and invading Iraq is not nearly the same.

About Bush's view himself in religious terms, it's not a fantasy. Bush is by far the most religious of US leaders and he does see himself as God chosen. Even Woodward talked about it in his book, based on his interviews with Bush. If I have time, I'll try to dig some evidence for you, but it is true that Bush views world as a struggle between good and evil, and himself as being God's chosen to fight on the good side. It seems high school because it's hard to believe, but it is true, unfortunately.

Aspasia M. said...

You know, I'll be happy if Iraq doesn't end up as:

1) a totalitarian Shia state,

or
2) a unstable anarchy

or
3) a weak state that is a haven for terrorists

We are framing this debate as one about ideology (peace-nik vs. Bush-nik?), when the administration has lost support because the American public doubts the judgement and competence of the civilians who are running the mission.

tcd said...

geoduck,
So you speak for the American public? Wow, what national election did you or your party win again?

JBlog said...

When making such comparisons, Mr. Dean might wish to recall that Vietnam was an adventure of the Democratic Party.

F15C said...

Mark: "However, you have to concede that the USA won't be there for 20 years; whether we want it or not, US public simply won't accept our staying there for that long."

How long have we been in Japan? In Germany? In Korea? Too long maybe, but longer than 20 years that's for sure.

Americans will tolerate us being in Iraq assuming acceptable reasons for doing so. No problem.

However I don't think even democratically governed Iraqi's will want us infidels there that long given the slow but inexorably increasing radicalization of Islam. Iraq is so holy to Islam that only a truly tolerant, moderate Islam would allow our presence there for extended periods even if we provide a stabilizing and peaceful influence.

F15C said...

Mark: "It's far from clear that Al Qaeda will be able to win in Iraq anyway. Most Shiites will never support this predominantly Sunni group."

Why is not at least plausibly clear given recent history? Saddam's Baathist minority ruled Iraq before in spite of its lack of support by other factions. Al Qaeda has already demonstrated that it can and will take over a country and convert it to a hardline sharia ruled nation - regardless of what the citizenry wants.

Pastor_Jeff said...

Mark said:

Very unfair and misleading comment. Democrats never said that military are "terrorists", "incompetent, terrorist killbots" or any of the other stuff that you accused them of saying.

Okay, "killbots" was just cribbing from the Simpsons. But the rest? Dean: "We can not win in Iraq." Our soldiers can't beat terrorist thugs? How good are they? Kerry: US soldiers are going into homes "in the dead of the night, terrorizing kids and children and women." Murtha: Our army is "broken," "worn out," and "living hand to mouth."

The problem is the Commander-in-Chief.

Funny how the vast majority of soldiers on the ground don't think so. Do you think most of the military agree with Bush, or with Dean, Murtha, Pelosi and Kerry? Who is the problem?

F15C said...

coco, your post is taken in the vein it was meant - no offense taken at all.

Your observation is valid in that sloan did exercise conjecture in scoping a war 15 years hence, but I see a critical difference in sloan's and Mark's statements.

Mark is creating statements purporting to summarize today's ongoing events as well as recent history. Statements that ignore much of the reality of the matter, have little if any factual basis, and only support one perspective.

Sloan's war 15 years hence is not a key element of the discussion but (as I read it) more a rhetorical element to provide scope and perspective.

Comparing the two, sloan's war 15 years hence is certainly not a keystone upon which the rest of her argument rested. Mark's statements are keystones of his position and have as a basis the aforementioned aphoristic and well written conjecture.

I don't want a fight either, but I would take issue with your statement that my description of Mark's writings apply "equally, (probably more) to Sloanasaurus' comments".

But that is a difference in perspective no doubt, and not worth a discussion - especially given the gravity of everything else going on in the world.

Aspasia M. said...

1) The Republicans hold power in both the Congress and in the Presidential Branch. The United States will not pull out of Iraq unless the Republican leadership makes that decision. You do not have to worry about a pull out, unless you think the Republican leadership will "cut and run."

2) What is up with West Germany = Iraq? Isn't the difference obvious? The insecurity in Iraq requires a lot of soldiers and a lot of security. This costs a lot of money. What is Iraq costing us this year? Multiply that by 20.

The violence in Iraq would have to subside considerably to make a comparison with Germany or Japan.

F15C said...

Again, back to Dean and his beliefs (if one is to believe that he really believes what he is saying).

If a leader of a significant segment of our enemy (call him Abdul Al Dean) were to say the same thing Howard Dean said, but about his own troops and their ability to win the war, no one would question that such a statement is defeatist and that it would result in the raising of his enemies morale.

Also, I'm sure that while I and many like me disagree with Mr. Dean vehemently, I'm sure our enemies leaders applaud his statement and want him to continue. He certainly is not hurting our enemy when he speaks that way.

Someone explain at what point dissent becomes disloyalty and what responsibility dissenting anti-war leaders have in tempering their rhetoric such that they do not in any way provide encouragement to our enemy?

What statement would an anti-war person have to say that would categorize them as disloyal and disparaging of our military? Where is the line, that once crossed, renders one disloyal and potentially traitorous?

Does such a line even exist in the minds of the left, or do they believe they can say anything as long as it helps to achieve their ends?

Mark said...

f15c:

Your comparison with Afghanistan suffers from a pretty serious flaw.You are forgetting that in Afghanistan, Al Qaeda had a major ally: Taliban. Al Qaeda did not take over Afghanistan, rather Taliban allowed it to operate freely. While I despise both, you have to see the difference between Taliban and Al Qaeda.

I highly doubt that Al Qaeda will be able to win in Iraq. It simply lacks popular support. Most of the Iraqi sunnis are pretty secular, while Al Qaeda is violently religious. So, it's far far from clear what will happen to Al Qaeda when the USA leaves.

About us being there for 20 years, of course the locals won't be OK with it. I thought it was so obvious that not even worth mentioning. However, I think that Americans also won't put up with losing 100 soldiers a month for 20 years.

pastor jeff:

"The problem is the Commander-in-Chief.

Funny how the vast majority of soldiers on the ground don't think so. Do you think most of the military agree with Bush, or with Dean, Murtha, Pelosi and Kerry? Who is the problem? "

How do you know what most of the military thinks? As I understand, a substantial number of military, if not the majority, is unhappy with this war. True, military usually is pro-Republican. But Bush's presidency is starting to change it. There's a lot of reports of soldiers not being happy with the war. It's difficult to accurately gauge military's opinion in any case.

But of course, what you said is non sequitur; it has no relevance to my argument. My point was that Democrats and vast majority of independents are unhappy with Bush, not with the soldiers. You proceeded to say that military disagrees. Even if it's true (wihch I doubt), it has no relevance to what I said.

Mark said...

f15c:

Of course, you are also wrong in your characterizing my position as heavily reliant on experience with other wars but I won't re-argue the same points.

"Someone explain at what point dissent becomes disloyalty and what responsibility dissenting anti-war leaders have in tempering their rhetoric such that they do not in any way provide encouragement to our enemy?

What statement would an anti-war person have to say that would categorize them as disloyal and disparaging of our military? Where is the line, that once crossed, renders one disloyal and potentially traitorous?

Does such a line even exist in the minds of the left, or do they believe they can say anything as long as it helps to achieve their ends?"

No such false line exists. Dissent has nothing to do with treason; it's not only our right, but our duty to dissent. Dissent is vital to public policy and to healthy society. There are many many statements by leading historical figures in the USA about the importance of dissent even in time of war.

Plainly speaking, what Dean said has no relevance on the troops. They will do their job exactly as they did it the day before he said it. Similarly, it won't have any effect on the enemies in Iraq. They don't care about internal US debates on the war; even if it marginally increases their morale, it's a price that we pay for living in democracy; in fact, that's part of what differentiates us from them.

Accusations of disloyalty and treasonry and unpatriotism have no place in the discourse relating to the war.

Aspasia M. said...

f15C:

Why do you want to suppress political dissent? What is your definition of a democratic republic?

F15C said...

geoduck2, I do not want to suppress dissent. I neither said nor indicated nothing of the sort. You are stretching for something that just isn't there. Why don't you address my question?

Mark:

The truth is that statements by a leader such as Dean do have effects beyond our shores, and can and do impact our enemy for better or worse. Do you disagree? If so please explain.

Dissent is wonderful and a duty. Yada, yada, yada. Platitude. That is not the issue. The issue is when does dissent transgress into something else, something harmful to the wellbeing of our military?

Or maybe the issue with the left is that they believe dissent bestows the ultimate in patriotism and loyalty, and (no doubt approved) dissenters can by definition never be disloyal - much less worse.

Are you telling us that there is no such thing as speech that is disloyal to the nation? That, as long as one hides under the noble umbrella of dissent that one can say or do literally anything?

If that is not what you are saying, then there is a line, however narrow or broad, that separates dissent from disloyalty.

I am asking you to tell me clearly if such a line exists don't equivocate, be clear - it does or it doesn't. If you believe no such line exists, then please explain to me and the forum why dissent means the ability to say or do anything as long one classifies what they say or do as 'dissent'.

Mark said...

f15c:

It's ridiculous that I need to explain basic difference between dissent and treason.
Dissent and treason have different definitions, last time I checked. Treason is defined as:

1) Violation of allegiance toward one's country or sovereign, especially the betrayal of one's country by waging war against it or by consciously and purposely acting to aid its enemies.
2) A betrayal of trust or confidence.

In contrast, dissent is defined as:
1) Difference of opinion or feeling; disagreement.
2) The refusal to conform to the authority or doctrine of an established church; nonconformity.

www.dictionary.com

What Dean said falls clearly under (1) of dissent. Unless you can show that he consciously and purposely acted to aid US enemies, it's not a treason.

I.e., a dissent becomes treason if its conscious purpose to aid US enemies. If you want call it a line, fine.

Aspasia M. said...

F15C,

You haven't been very specific with what type of political speech you are talking about. I can't answer your question without specifics.


Do you think what Murtha said to the reporters was treasonous?

XWL said...

Last things first, and first things last.

The military is fighting against an insurgency, an ideology of hatred, and opinion at home.

All these fronts suffer when propaganda is handed to our enemies. Chairman Dean's statements have great propaganda value for the enemy. He (and Mark) feels they embody dissent. But in the definition of treason that Mark quoted there is this, "or by consciously and purposely acting to aid its enemies".

The Marks and Deans and CodePinks of the world don't feel any responsibility for their words or how those words can be used by our enemies (and our enemies don't differentiate Republicans from Democrat, Liberals from Conservatives, we all deserve death in the eyes of those willing to kill). What Dean said as an important official of the major opposition party in the world's last superpower isn't out and out treason, but his words are treacherous and that kind of thinking will lead to a self fulfilling prophecy of defeat and slaughter.

Now back to that first thing, I was specific in my analogy. Bastogne was a stand made by American forces during a war that was largely over. The losses were huge (81,000 casualties, 19,000 dead for the U.S. alone) and the military cost of accepting surrendering or retreating wouldn't have been as big as the psychological blow to the Allies and the psychological boost to the Germans would have been had someone with Chairman Dean's philosophy had been in command instead of a person like General McAuliffe.

I was referencing that one incident in that one battle, and I stand by my analogy. Sometimes a tactical withdrawal is called for, but not when the war has already been won.

The crazies in Iraq have been defeated, that they still are capabable of killing many Iraqis and Americans doesn't lessen the fact that they hold no attraction to the majority of Iraqis (even the Sunni).

To declare defeat now that the fruits of victory are being realized is absolutely nuts in my opinion.

And as I know that Mark is inflicted with a horrendous case of last-wordism I know he'll take 5 paragraphs to say the same things he's already said many times over, but have at it, it's a FREE country (as will Iraq be, the first of many in the region).

Aspasia M. said...

xwl,

You say Dean's words are "treacherous." Do you believe that Murtha's words are "treacherous"? If not, why?

Or should I assume that Murtha, like Dean, is boardering on treason in your opinion.

dick said...

Mark,

Where do you get the idea that the majority of the military is unhappy with the war? I would really like to see where you find anything like that anywhere. All the reports I see have the troops in favor of the war in Iraq by a ratio of about 3 or 4 to 1. Your comment just does not gibe with that at all. Do you have some basis for that statement that you can share with us? It really sounds like something that DU or Ted Rall or Code Pink would put out there.

F15C said...

Mark: "It's ridiculous that I need to explain basic difference between dissent and treason.
Dissent and treason have different definitions, last time I checked."

It is ridiculous because that is clearly not what I'm asking. I don't need a lecture on dictionary definitions, I'm know the difference quite well.

Here is what I wrote:

"I am asking you to tell me clearly if such a line exists don't equivocate, be clear - it does or it doesn't. If you believe no such line exists, then please explain to me and the forum why dissent means the ability to say or do anything as long one classifies what they say or do as 'dissent'."

XWL wrote quite eloquently about the fact that words have power and can help or do damage to our military in wartime.

Do you believe it is impossible that the words spoken by Chairman Dean could be used as propaganda by our enemy to the detriment of our troops?

The question is simple, and the answer is yes or no. It is either possible or it isn't.

F15C said...

Is Howard Dean's statement treasonous? I don't think so, because I don't think he made the statement to help the enemy. I think he made the statement to help the Democratic party and hurt the Republicans - especially Bush. I don't think he cares a rat's ass about the military or the nation - beyond what's in it for him.

I do believe Dean's statement shows disloyalty to the military and to the nation. If Mark or geoduck2 want to say the war in unwinnable they are welcome to do so. But then they are not a leader of a significant segment of the political population of the nation - Dean is. Al Qaeda won't score a lot of propaganda points by quoting Mark or geoduck2, but they can score big time if Dean provides them with juicy quotes.

For Dean's statement to be treasonous, it would have to be provable that he made the statement as part of an effort to help the enemy or somesuch. Though I believe him to be a self-centered, cretin I don't think he is outright working for the enemy.

Though I do believe he helped them out a lot with his statement.

Here's the rub for me. I believe in dissent. But I believe that during times of war those choosing to dissent about the war have a responsibility to do so in a manner that does not provide aid, comfort, or propaganda for the enemy.

Is that difficult to do? Yes it is. Impossible? No, and not by a long shot. No one said being a responsible citizen in a democracy is easy.

There is no law, rule, or principle that "dissenters" can say or do any damn thing they want with no regard for the potential damage to the nation from their choice of words and/or actions.

There is responsible dissent, and then there is... What? Irresponsible dissent? There is no such thing.

When a dissenter makes irresponsible statements that can damage our military or civilians who we've tasked with prosecuting a war, they cease being dissenters and become something else altogether. Disloyal at best, treasonous at worst. The choice is theirs to make.

Mark said...

I could not disagree more with XWL and f15c about "irresponsible dissent". You are threading on a very slippery slope when you are trying to determine who is or is not allowed to publicly dissent. f15c seems to distinguish a private citizen's dissent from Dean's dissent by pointing out that Dean is a leader of Democrats. So, according to him, leaders of the opposition have fewer rights to dissent than ordinary citizens because (he claims) it will embolden the enemy.
Of course, there is no evidence that Al Qaeda pays any attention to what opposition leaders are saying, and more importantly IT DOESN'T MATTER.
Otherwise, any dissent can be stiffled by pointing out that it serves interests of somebody. Dissent during the war is crucial, even if there's some price to pay for it (which nobosy proved yet, there are only speculations). Of course, there is a huge double standard since Republicans didn't care about the effect of their criticism of Clinton's decision to launch a war in Kosovo on Serbs.

Anyway, to demonstrate the logical conclusion of XWL and f15c's position, here's what Michael Reagan, a conservative radio host said:
(courtesy of http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2005/12/5/234519.shtml?et=y)

Michael Reagan, son of the late President Ronald Reagan, is blasting Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean for declaring that the U.S. won't be able to win the war in Iraq, saying Dean ought to be "hung for treason."

"Howard Dean should be arrested and hung for treason or put in a hole until the end of the Iraq war!" Reagan told his Radio America audience on Monday.

Mark said...

To illustrate my point, assume that Hillary Clinton is the President. Assume further that she makes the decision that the best way to defeat Al Qeada is to stop the war in Iraq, and instead invade Russia and take control of Russian nuclear arms so that they don't get in the hands of terrorists. Of course, that would be an idiotic decision, but just assume President Hillary Clinton makes it.
Consequently, US troops enter Russia, Russia protests, skirmishes between US and Russian troops ensue, a threat of the full-scale war grows exponentially, and Russia demands that the US leave immediately.

According to your position, Republican leaders should not be allowed to criticize Hillary's actions and advocate the ony sane course of actions (withdraw from Russia), since their dissent may be viewed as "emboldening our enemies", "defeatist", "lowering morale of the troops", etc.

Still feel that you want to limit dissent during war?

Sloanasaurus said...

I agree with Mark, Dissent is important during war. Although sometimes I wish Democrats would criticize things that matter for victory such as the effectiveness of our weapons or the spending and corruption in the Pentagon. Instead they just redebate the original vote to go to war. This is counterproductive. Why redebate this vote over and over again.

Also, I think people have the right to call Dean a traitor. Its freedom. I have the right to my opinion to call him a traitor just as Dean has the right to make his comments.

Therefore, my opinion is: Dean is a big fat traitor.

Murtha, (while not being a traitor like Dean) is a wingbat. He cares more about the plight of the individual soldier than the country. In Murtha's mind, sending our troops off to war is a stupid idea because the soldiers might get hurt. He reminds me of General George McClellan, who was afraid to use the army for fear that it would get hurt.

Aspasia M. said...

Political pundits (and others) have been throwing around serious words like "treason" and "disloyality." Mark quoted one pundit who asserted that Dean should be "hung."

These are serious charges. A commenter noted on a previous thread that the extreme right has made accusations of treason into a parlor game.

It's interesting that the same pundits don't have the balls to accuse Murtha of "treason" or "disloyalty". Perhaps they do have some sense of decency.

I know that I don't want politicians in my country "hung" because they contradicted a policy of the administration. Isn't that the virtue of living in a democratic nation? Political dissent and political parties can critique and challenge the policies of the party in power.

If you don't like the critique, then vote against that party in the next election. Why try to stop the debate altogether?

Aspasia M. said...

Sloanasauraus said:

"Therefore, my opinion is: Dean is a big fat traitor."

Is this a rhetorical flourish, or are you serious? Treason is a crime, a high crime.

Let's get to the bottom of this debate:

Are you using the words for rhetorical drama, or do you think Howard Dean ought to be on trial for high crimes against the United States of America?

Sloanasaurus said...

"....Even you have to concede that calling the USSR an evil empire (BTW, Reagan took it back during his visit to Moscow in 1987) and invading Iraq is not nearly the same....."

I agree, they are not the same. However, my point about the "evil empire" comment was that Reagan was obviously abandoning the realist detente position for dealing with the USSR. Reagan also used more than words, he restarted the arms race.

The realist view at the time was that the USSR was here to stay and that we should accept that and therefore we should have a moderate position when dealing with them. Reagan disagreed with the realists and thought that the USSR could crumble if we took a more aggressive posture.

The realist view on Iraq was containment; i.e., we should recognize that Saddam and other dictatorships in the middle east are the status quo and we should attempt to contain them. Bush abandoned this realist belief with his pressure and subsequent invasion of Iraq.

Containment was clearly failing as a policy by 2000. If it wasn't for September 11 occurring when it did, Saddam would have cut loose from UN sanctions and would be a world menace today. Sept 11, however, gave the U.S. the political capital and Bush the confidence to deal with the Saddam issue - a window of opportunity had opened on Saddam following Sept 11 and Bush took it.

be thankful that he did

For those who still think Bush lied, I offer this: Why did Saddam not comply with the UN requests to interview his scientists outside of the country. And why did Saddam impede the effort of the inspectors generally. All Saddam had to do was comply with the UN Inspector requests and he could have avoided the war, stayed in power, and further would have had the sanctions dropped. What is Bush supposed to do then.. If Bush was only 50% sure that Saddam had WMD, it would be folly for Bush to go home after Saddam refuses to cooperate. Saddam's non cooperation is the VERY BEST confirmation that Bush could have ever gotten that Saddam had something to hide.

"...Bush is by far the most religious of US leaders and he does see himself as God chosen. Even Woodward talked about it in his book, based on his interviews with Bush..."

This paranoia about Bush is common with the secular left. They have a general misunderstanding of religious people, particularly evangelicals and somehow think that such people are insane and hear voices from God, etc... It's a load of crap. I am not an evangelical, but I know plenty of them, and they are normal people.

I read Woodwards book. Bush is no more religious than other U.S. presidents. FDR used to give his own written sermons to troops and his staff. I don't recall Bush doing this.


Besides, we want a President who is religious and at least believes that there is a truth, otherwise we will be stuck with a relativist - a president who makes up the truth for his own uses.

Sloanasaurus said...

Geoduck, I am not expressing a legal opinion on treason. I personally think Dean is a traitor even if he doesn't meet the legal definition.

I think Jane Fonda is a traitor also. So is John Kerry.

However, of the three mentioned above, only Fonda should be actually tried for treason. What she did is an absolute disgrace, no different than Axis Sally. (maybe Kerry too if he actually met with the North Vietnam reps in Paris).

Sloanasaurus said...

"....It's interesting that the same pundits don't have the balls to accuse Murtha of "treason" or "disloyalty". Perhaps they do have some sense of decency...."

Murtha is only arguing that we should pull out, because he thinks that is a better strategy than staying. That is stupidity, its not treason.

Aspasia M. said...

Treason is a word that has meaning in terms of the legal implications. Treason, by its definition, is a high crime against the state.


A person can kill. This is not a legal term.

In contrast, murder is a legal term.

Henry said...

Mark,

I don't think it's 2-3 years max. If McCain is the next president, it could easily go 6-10 years. Even if Clinton is the next president, she may inherit and continue the occupation, purely because of the difficulty of withdrawing. Events have a way of controlling presidents.

Even if it is 2-3 years max, I'll take it over any immediate drawdown (let alone withdrawal). That's 2-3 more years of training for Iraqi forces; 2-3 more years of democratic practice for the population to experience; 2-3 more years for the Kurds to get ready for what comes after; 2-3 more years for infrastructure development.

Let me offer another non-Vietnam analogy. Peru held elections in 1990 while significant portions of the country were under the control of the Shining Path guerillas. Yet, despite Shining Path terrorism, despite Fujimori's descent from elected president to dictator to deposed criminal, despite the country's current problems with corruption and human rights, it still shows halting progress toward functioning democracy.

The idea that the U.S. can never "impose" democracy ignores the way democracy makes its slow, oft-reversed, progress in historically poorly-governed places like Peru (or historically authoritarian places like Taiwan). If the people of Iraq are exposed to democracy, if they get a taste of it, whose to say what might result in future years?

When Howard Dean says the war is "unwinnable" I question his standard of "win." As I pointed out above, we didn't "win" the Korean war, but millions and millions of South Koreans surely "won."

F15C said...

Mark: "So, according to him, leaders of the opposition have fewer rights to dissent than ordinary citizens because (he claims) it will embolden the enemy."

That is not what I said. Our political leaders have every bit as much right and duty to dissent as anyone else - but because of their power positions they have greater responsibility to temper their dissent such that it does not harm our troops physically or psychologically.

Their words have power beyond our shores. Do you not understand that?

"Of course, there is no evidence that Al Qaeda pays any attention to what opposition leaders are saying, and more importantly IT DOESN'T MATTER."

I guess you don't. You have got to be kidding. No one can possibly be that naieve. It most certainly does matter. Anyone who thinks Dean's words can have no positive effect on the morale of our enemy in this war, they are at best terminally naieve about war.

What about the effects of Dean's words on our military? Do you think Dean's words emboldened our troops, raising their morale and increased their belief in what they are doing?

F15C said...

Reagan is an idiot for saying what he did about Dean.

But at least his words do not serve to embolden the enemy.

Aspasia M. said...

ok - I just watched FOX news and saw the commentary on Dean and what he said.

Hasn't Dean been saying this for over 3 years? I haven't closely tracked his speeches, but he has been saying things very close to this speech, no?

I didn't realize that this speech had been picked up in the FOX news cycle, unlike every other speech he's made on the war since prior to troops entering Iraq.

F15C said...

It is clear that the Democrats are ratcheting up their onslaught against Bush and the war. But let's face it, that's all they have to work with - because they have positioned themselves that way.

The Democratic leadership has put the party in a position such that they have no vested interest in any kind of positive outcome in Iraq. Every iota of progress toward a free and democratic Iraq it is a blow to the Democratic party in America.

Clearly, the Democratic party has a vested interest in America's defeat in Iraq. If not true, then someone explain how the Democrats (beyond the few who *truly* support the war) will benefit by America not being defeated in Iraq.

Kerry's remarks that our troops terrorize Iraqi women and children, and Dean's remarks in question here are not random. The party thinks they smell blood in terms of the poll numbers on the war and they are going for it in a frenzy.

F15C said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sloanasaurus said...

Democrats will benefit greatly by victory in Iraq. If there is no foreign threat on the table, its much easier to elect doves to the government. THis is how Clinton was elected.